Hemant Mehta graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with degrees in Mathematics and Biology. While there, he also helped establish their first secular student group, Students WithOut Religious Dogma (SWORD). He earned his Masters in Math Education at DePaul University and is a National Board Certified high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago.
He has worked with the Center for Inquiry and the Secular Coalition for America, received scholarships from American Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and appeared on CNN and FOX News Channel.
He currently serves on the board of directors for Foundation Beyond Belief (a charity organization targeting non-theistic donors) after spending several years as the chair of the board of the Secular Student Alliance (which creates and supports college atheist groups nationwide).
You can reach him at email@example.com.
All posts by Hemant can be read here.
Jessica Bluemke grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in a fairly non-religious home, but didn’t identify as an atheist until she had an epiphany during an Early American Literature class while reading “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” She has a wide variety of interests and semi-talents, including writing, horseback riding, dance, singing, guitar, and traveling, but is still trying to figure out how to hammer all of those things into some sort of career.
A 2008 graduate from Ball State university in Muncie, IN, she has also lived in Montana, Australia, and London, but currently resides on the North Side of Chicago with her boyfriend and his DVD collection. She loves science, horses, The Cubs, run-on sentences, and pre-2009-Discovery Channel. Her dream is to be a correspondent on The Daily Show or to only talk like she is in an Aaron Sorkin show.
You can read all posts by Jessica here.
In a way Richard Wade was born in the Temple of Science because his parents worked in a major Natural History museum as exhibit designers and illustrators. Their friends were paleontologists, geologists, entomologists, historians and the like, so Richard was brought up on a steady diet of science. As a child, he enjoyed going out on archeological digs or hunting for fossils with the professionals, or helping with specimens in the lab.
He has two Master’s degrees, the first in Art and the second in Educational Psychology. He has worked as an artist and as a Marriage and Family Counselor with many years in the specialization of addiction medicine, having counseled more than ten thousand patients. Now retired, he lives in California with his wife and enjoys amateur astronomy, hiking in the Sierras, fossil hunting and making figurative sculptures.
After contributing various articles on Friendly Atheist for 20 months, at Hemant’s suggestion in July of 2009 he began writing an advice column called “Ask Richard.” Twice a week, he publishes his responses to email letters from people of all viewpoints, not just atheists. These usually deal with challenges or conflicts stemming from believers and nonbelievers living or working together. He hopes to reduce unnecessary strife and suffering on all sides.
Kelley Freeman is a junior at the University of South Carolina majoring in Russian language with a minor in Sociology. She is currently the president of the Pastafarians at USC. For the summer of 2011, Kelley worked as the summer intern for the Secular Student Alliance (and it was AWESOME). In fall of 2010, she helped coordinate and organize the Columbia Leadership Summit with the SSA.
She may continue her studies after graduation, but her true passion is working within the secular movement. Kelley puts a heavy emphasis on doing service work within her group and providing an awesome community for non-religious students.
She was an honorable mention (woo!) for the 2011 American Atheists’ scholarship.
Other than Pastafarians, Kelley works as a vice president of service with the service sorority Omega Phi Alpha and has previous worked for student housing as a Resident Mentor. She can also crochet like a fiend.
In her free time, she blogs about crochet and cats at http://ramenneedles.com in case you’re interested.
You can read all posts by Kelley here.
M J Shepherd‘s first ever moment of non-belief occurred when he was very young, in a Sunday School class about the healing powers of Jesus. He was reported to have said, “I don’t need Jesus, I have band-aids!”
It’s been downhill from there.
He graduated in 2009 with a BA in studio art and a minor in art history, from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was president of the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics club there as well.
Before reaching college, he gadded about with the Boy Scouts, lollygagging his way to Eagle Scout rank and promptly forgetting every knot ever learned save the square knot, and was enrolled at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts – Riverfront, a specially designed high school for artistic students in the New Orleans area. Perhaps even… intelligently designed.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read all posts by MJ here.
Rudis Muiznieks is a software engineer and Canadian ex-pat living in Florida. He was raised in a non-religious home and has identified as an atheist since a young age. He also had a borderline-obsessive interest in all things paranormal — UFOs, aliens, Bigfoot, conspiracy theories, astral projection, you name it! By his late teens, years of reading, debating, learning, and several “experiments” that he’s too embarrassed to discuss nowadays (without a few beers in him first) finally led him to the conclusion that all of those things are the product of overactive imaginations, and lapses in rational thought.
After following his future wife to the United States and finding himself with an overabundance of free time due to an immigration status that didn’t allow him to work, Rudis decided to launch Cectic, a semi-weekly comic strip with a decidedly skeptical bent. Now that he has real job and far less free time, you can find his ongoing sporadic comical pursuits here on the Friendly Atheist. You can also follow him on Twitter.
You can read all posts by Rudis here.
At a young age, Bengie was drawn to good stories from television, movies, comics, and even the occasional novel. After absorbing tales of ancient Gilgamesh to distant Galifrey, he noticed something odd. The story he had been raised to believe had the narrative structure of a fan-fiction of a fan-fiction. It was peculiar. Downright funny even. So funny, in fact, that he started drawing a Wednesday Webcomic about religion, science and skepticism!
Bengie also runs a Zombie De-Animation service from www.slackjawcomic.com.
You can read all posts by Bengie here.
Claudia is a molecular biologist who now makes her home in the UK, having grown up in both Spain and the United States. Being a fourth generation atheist growing up in very liberal surroundings, she was completely sheltered from religion, viewing it with the mild curiosity afforded peculiar tribal festivals in faraway lands. A growing awareness of the existence of present-day creationism as well as reading The God Delusion turned the apathetic self-identified agnostic into a fire-breathing atheist, a form she still takes today.
Claudia retains an anthropological interest in the phenomenon of religious belief, and the process of indoctrination into absolutist ideologies generally. Her first love is science, and her chosen enemy is those who denigrate its findings, turn children away from its wonder or misuse its prestige to exploit the weakness of the sick and the ignorant.
She can be contacted at email@example.com.
You can read all posts by Claudia here.
As a lover of science and reason, Ericka M. Johnson has an affinity for evolutionary biology and is a board member with Seattle Atheists. She revels in any opportunity for a thoughtful debate on the meaning of life, the universe, and everything (especially over a pint.)
You can read all posts by Ericka here.
Mark Turner was born and raised as a Catholic in the North East of England, UK. He attended two Catholic schools between the ages of five and sixteen. A product of a moderate Catholic upbringing and an early passion for science first resulted in religious apathy and by mid-teens outright disbelief.
Mark went on study Computer Science at undergraduate and postgraduate level at the University of Newcastle, where he now works as a Researcher. Mark has a great passion for travel, filling one passport and visiting almost 40 countries along the way. In his spare time he runs a small web design company and maintains in interest in science, politics and religion.
You can read all posts by Mark here.
Paul Fidalgo is communications director of the Center for Inquiry where he writes the regular blog series The Morning Heresy. He previously led communications for the Secular Coalition for America and FairVote: the Center for Voting and Democracy. He holds a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University, where his master’s thesis was on atheists in American politics. Paul is also an actor and musician whose work includes five years performing with the American Shakespeare Center. He lives in Maine with his wife Jessica and son Toby. His personal blog is Near Earth Object, and he tweets as @paulfidalgo.
You can read all posts by Paul here.
Edward Tarte studied math at the University of Texas from 1952-1956. He then became a Catholic seminarian, leading to his ordination to the priesthood in 1963. He was then an assistant pastor for three years at a Catholic church in an affluent area of Houston, Texas, followed by two years in downtown Houston.
After those five years he left the priesthood in 1968 and became a math teacher, teaching middle school for 17 years followed by high school for 20 years. At age 70 he retired from the classroom and continued as a one-on-one math tutor in students’ homes, which he continues to do now at age 78.
A few years ago he became an atheist. What he loves to do daily are play chess online, play the piano, and listen to music. The pinnacles of his love of music include the symphonies and concertos of Brahms, Beethoven, and Mozart. Last fall Edward had a cancerous tumor removed from his abdomen and is now apparently cancer-free. A major activity for about the past three years is that he has made over 600 YouTube videos, in the categories of religion, piano, Mr. Music, and math challenges (with prizes available ). At YouTube you can browse the playlists at his profile page. His current contribution to friendlyatheist.com is a weekly short religion video. You can email Edward at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can listen to all posts by Edward here.
Camille Beredjick is a Northwestern University undergraduate in her last year of journalism school, a gay rights activist, a feminist, and a lover of all things controversial. She was raised in Tampa, FL by a Catholic mom and a Jewish dad, a quirky setup that steered her toward skepticism at an early age. For no particular reason, she really loves pugs and cupcakes. Camille runs an LGBT news blog at http://gaywrites.org/.
You can read all posts by Camille here.
Sara Lin Wilde is a recovering Catholic (and cat-holic, for that matter — all typographical errors are the responsibility of her feline friends). After being an avid Catholic youth group member in her teen years — purity ring and all! — she abandoned the Church towards the end of her first year in university. It was too hard to reconcile with her growing feminism.
She still reveres books that are less badly-written than the Bible, and is trained in Library and Information Sciences, a Masters-level degree that makes her theoretically employable. But because her first love is writing, she’s put aside her librarianship to work on writing a novel that she really, really hopes can actually get published. You can follow her progress and other sundry details of her life and thoughts at her author blog or on Twitter.
She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
You can read all posts by Sara here.